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Things that were banned

Meet a Citroën SM.

Illustration for article titled Things that were banned

The SM was a very French car (although the engine, not so much) intended for a mainly French audience. Nonetheless, a few found their way to the Americans. The Americans, as we know, prefer to go their own way with car regulations and so you’d expect many features of the SM to be illegal there. And you’d be right.

Let’s begin at the front. First thing we meet is the bumper and yes, we’re already beyond the law. The bumper became illegal once the Americans required battering rams for 1974 so the SM was toast in the US. They had hoped they might get a dispensation but no and the hundred or so cars in the country and still unsold had to be sent to Japan instead.


Next, and set into the now-illegal bumper we find white side/parking lights and orange indicators. No, they wouldn’t do either. The Americans required, and still do for reasons unknown, orange parking lights. New moulding required then.

Just behind the bumper we find a transparent cover over the lights. No, that couldn’t stay either. Foreign and quite possibly communist.

Working back we find six lights. Yes, these were naughty too. Not only were there six but one pair, following the example set by the DS, followed the front wheels as they steered. This was deemed to be an example of “moveable headlights” which were very much banned. To add to their illegality, they weren’t even sealed beams. Out with the whole lot then and in with four round sealed beams, none of them steering.

Like so.

Illustration for article titled Things that were banned

Working back - and we haven’t got very far yet - we find an absence of side markers. They’ll need to be hammered in then.

Looking under the car, we find oleopneumatic suspension. Although foreign, suspect, not invented here and very likely socialist, this wasn’t banned in and of itself. However, it allowed the driver to raise and lower the car at will and provided self-levelling. Sounds good, but we’re back to moveable headlights. If you can vary the ride height you’re varying the position of the lights. Out with the self levelling then.


Anything else? Well, it needed side markers at the back as well.

Other than all that the SM was fully acceptable to the Americans.

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